If the ongoing recession and cuts in public spending are anything to go by, we should all be taking ultra-austere measures to curb our spending and reduce our borrowing to a minimum. But does that mean there’s no scope for fun, and no room for romance? Absolutely not.
Celebrating achievements and enjoying date nights or fun activities are all vital elements of a healthy relationship and lifestyle. Just as with dieting – where you can’t cut out eating sweet things forever, because trying to do that would just make you want to binge on chocolate cake for a whole week – we need to be careful not to overlook important milestones in our love lives for the sake of being financially careful. With the following tips, the price of romance need not be as high as you may think.
What to do with your finances:
If you feel very settled in your life with your partner, you’ve probably already spent a number of years living together and may even have a shared bank account for the bills and rent. Now’s the time to think about how you want things to continue. Marriage isn’t for everyone, but it’s the ideal scenario for bringing up kids, and if that’s what you want in your future, you need to start planning for it. It doesn’t have to be all legal documents and Excel pages that bore you to death, but some amount of organizing does help with day-to-day life, just as saving up for and planning a wedding is best done gradually and with plenty of time for careful assessment and organization.
If you’ve been hesitant about proposing or suggesting the idea of marriage because you don’t feel you have enough money, these thoughts and worries will interfere with having fun together and cause you unnecessary stress. You don’t have to go into debt over a wedding, but you do need to talk about the nitty-gritty of your financial future. It’s not worth undermining your relationship by doing something you can’t afford, but neither is it healthy to avoid discussing the situation if these are the things you are considering.
For example, if you’re waiting to have enough money to have a big, spectacular wedding, but you want to buy a house while you’re still paying off your student loan as well, you may be looking for a ‘third way’ solution that doesn’t exist. Be honest with yourself. You need to consider things like current interest rates for debts compared to savings and get clear on what you can realistically afford for a wedding. Which is more important to you – a dream wedding or a dream home? You might have to choose one or the other.
Scale down a wedding or honeymoon to something more manageable and you may well be able to reserve enough money to put a deposit on a flat to get you started on the property ladder. This type of decision needs great communication and lots of patience from both of you. Sit down and discuss these things seriously, but plan to go out for a lovely meal afterwards to reward yourselves for talking over some important, if a little tedious, things.
What to do for fun:
Set up a weekly ‘date night’ if you haven’t done this already. (If weekly is too much for your busy lifestyle, then agree on what works for both of you as an alternative.) You could write a plan for a month’s worth of fun activities on your calendar. One week date night could consist of staying in and ordering some takeaway and watching a film, another week it could be going out to a late night museum exhibition (most museums and galleries do this once a month) and another week it could be a cinema date.
Get creative about what you would enjoy doing and what would really help you switch off from the stress of finances and work, but keep to the plan as though your life depended on it, because to some extent, it does.
Take this opportunity as Spring brings a little lightheartedness to daily life to tackle financial concerns head-on and then get out and have fun to celebrate how great you are as a couple. If you can handle this stuff, you can handle anything, and that bodes rather well for a long, happy life together!